Wild Strawberry Shortcake
This beautiful pale green and red dessert combines green apples and strawberries. The apples are prepared like applesauce and turned into a pale green sauce flavored with a hint of citronella -- or lemongrass, depending upon the word you prefer. The shortcakes are swirled with strawberry puree, then turned into baskets for Kirsch-flavored sabayon by standing strawberry halves around the edges. The sabayon is browned like a crème brulee.
- Breton Shortcake
- Fine Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Baking Powder - 1 tablespoon
- All-Purpose Flour - 2 cups
- Egg Yolk - 4
- Sugar - 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon
- Unsalted Butter - 6 ounces (1-1/2 sticks) softened, cut in pieces
- Green Apple-Citronella Sauce
- Water - 2 cups
- Green Apples - 6, roughly chopped
- Sugar - 2/3 cup
- Citronella (lemongrass) - 4 stalks, cleaned and chopped
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Water - 2 tablespoons
- Egg yolks - 6
- Kirsch - 1 tablespoon
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/4 cup, beaten to soft peaks
- Strawberry Puree - 1/2 cup
- Strawberries - 28 to 32, depending on size, hulled and cut in half lengthwise
- Large strawberries - 2, hulled and cut in half lengthwise
- Raspberries - 8
- Red Currants - 4
- Mint leaves - 4
To prepare the shortcake: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift the salt and baking powder with the flour; set aside. Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat with electric mixer on medium-low speed until the sugar has dissolved. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk until the mixture thickens enough to form a ribbon when drizzled back upon itself (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat; whisk in the butter, a piece at a time. Gently fold in the flour mixture until completely blended. Spread out about 3/8-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 3-1/2- to 4-inch circles. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake 10 minutes, until golden. Remove and set aside.
To prepare the sauce: Bring the water and apples to a boil in a pot and add the citronella. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sugar, cover, and cook until the apples are softened, a total of15 to 20 minutes. Add water if necessary to keep the apples from sticking. Remove from heat and pour off the juice, reserving it. Blend the apples and citronella with a stick blender, adding a little of the juice to make the mixture very loose. Many pieces citronella will remain whole. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
To prepare the sabayon: Put the sugar and water in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water and cook until the mixture reaches 250 F. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg yolks until pale yellow. Slowly drizzle in the hot sugar, beating constantly, until incorporated . Continue beating until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Fold in the kirsch and whipped cream. Set aside. The mixture will be very soft.
To assemble: Heat the broiler to high. Put the strawberry puree in a squeeze bottle and draw a spiral of puree on each shortcake. Stand the strawberry halves, cut-face in, around the perimeter of the shortbread, anchoring them in the puree to make a cupped circle. Fill with sabayon and brown under the broiler (alternatively, brown with a small kitchen torch).
To serve: Pool sauce to one side in the bottom of four dessert plates, covering about two-thirds of each plate. Place a shortbread on each. Put two large dots of strawberry puree on each plate outside the sauce, and make an arc of six tiny dots of puree in the sauce. Garnish each beside the sauce with a strawberry half, 2 raspberries, a currant, and a mint leaf.